Our Story: Part 1

When we first set out to design, develop and test Vahana it seemed like a huge undertaking — especially considering our accelerated timeline. To keep our colleagues throughout Airbus informed, we began circulating monthly updates in 2017. Recently we looked back on our updates and thought they would provide a great look into the detailed steps it took to get Vahana through design, build, and flight testing. But before we dive into part one of this timeline inspired series, we wanted to recap the year that that project was launched: 2016.

Early 2016 marked the start of Vahana as one of the first projects approved at Acubed, the innovation center of Airbus in Silicon Valley. If you’re familiar with our story, then you’ll recall Vahana’s humble beginnings as a napkin sketch; but what many don’t realize is just how accelerated our pace of innovation was in that very first year.

By the time we publicly announced Vahana in September of 2016, our passionate team had already made immense progress including:

  • Building up a team of 18 people
  • Performing technical and economic feasibility studies
  • Completing design reviews with both Airbus internal and external experts
  • Completing the aerodynamic and industrial design of our aircraft
  • Building and flying two subscale aircraft
  • Developing and procuring numerous critical subsystems
  • Engaging with our external partners who helped build the airframe

By the end of 2016, we released part one of the Vahana Configuration Trade Study which explored two compelling VTOL configurations. The study led to the eight fan tilt-wing design you now see on Alpha One and Alpha Two.

We’re excited to share the month-by-month updates of 2017–2019 in our upcoming series and we hope you tune in to read never-before-revealed details and photos around the process of designing and building Vahana.

- Zach Lovering